Following her National Book Award finalist, Evidence of Things Unseen, Marianne Wiggins turns her extraordinary literary imagination to the American West, where the life of legendary photographer Edward S. Curtis is the basis for a resonant exploration of history and family, landscape and legacy.
The Shadow Catcher dramatically inhabits the space where past and present intersect, seamlessly interweaving narratives from two different eras: the first fraught passion between turn-of-the-twentieth-century icon Edward Curtis (1868-1952) and his muse-wife, Clara; and a twenty-first-century journey of redemption.
Narrated in the first person by a reimagined writer named Marianne Wiggins, the novel begins in Hollywood, where top producers are eager to sentimentalize the complicated life of Edward Curtis as a sunny biopic: "It's got the outdoors. It's got adventure. It's got the do-good element." Yet, contrary to Curtis's esteemed public reputation as servant to his nation, the artist was an absent husband and disappearing father. Jump to the next generation, when Marianne's own father, John Wiggins (1920-1970), would live and die in equal thrall to the impulse of wanderlust.
Were the two men running from or running to? Dodging the false beacons of memory and legend, Marianne amasses disparate clues -- photographs and hospital records, newspaper clippings and a rare white turquoise bracelet -- to recover those moments that went unrecorded, "to hear the words only the silent ones can speak." The Shadow Catcher, fueled by the great American passions for love and land and family, chases the silhouettes of our collective history into the bright light of the present.
"Wiggins writes with a feverish brilliance...close to prophetic brilliance."
-- Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Marianne Wiggins dares to make fictions that stand in the face of heart-cracking circumstance, fictions that, in fact, resound with hearts shattering."
-- The Washington Post Book World
"The author can make you weep in a single sentence...The events and relationships are rendered on the page with an immediacy that catches you up short."
-- The Boston Globe
"Wiggins is a writer of substantial gifts."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"Marianne Wiggins does not so much tell a story as make her reader live it...She renews our sense of what prose fiction can do."
-- The Sunday Times (London)
"Marianne Wiggins has...a passion to hurl herself into a continental unknown, to seek, misstep, recover and push on, while noticing every blade of grass along the way...the mark of a true epic endeavor."
-- The New York Times